Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's Getting Late

The year is winding down. I was going to wait til tomorrow to post. Today I was just catching up on some blogs I read when I came across this post from Awareness. Although she wrote it a couple weeks ago I am very glad I waited until today to read it. It very much speaks to how I feel about the close of this year and the beginning of a new year of hope and opportunity arriving in just a few hours. She expresses herself on the subjects of relationships, genuineness, and kindness much more eloquently than I can at the moment. I know it's getting late, but stop by and see what she has to say if you have a moment.

Monday, December 29, 2008


I swiped this meme off another blog. You're supposed to post the 4th photo in your 4th file and then share the story about it.

So, this is Athena, my brother's dog. The picture was taken on 2.14.08, the day he brought her home. I have this picture, among many others because I just made a handmade book of pictures of Athena as a Christmas gift for my brother.

Athena is now about a year old and weighs over 65 pounds. She also has a new "sister;" a chocolate lab named Riley.

I'm not officially tagging anyone for this meme, but if you decide to do it, leave a comment and let me know so I can stop by and visit.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What Did You Expect?

I took a few days off for Christmas. The weather is perfectly lovely today. And I got my new furniture delivered. In addition to lots of wonderful things, some great time with family, and the best Gift of all, I also got some other things for Christmas. I got a cold, maybe strep throat, 3 broken toes, a case of hives, and a backed up kitchen sink.
Inspired by the version of the 12 Days of Christmas I was thus writing in my head, and too tired to be creative enough to write it or anything else, I found this.
You know you love it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Steadfast Santa

My fellow artist Dianne recently made an art piece using this verse from Robert Frost and Santa. I decided to reinterpret the concept because I liked the theme so much and I am hoping to give the finished product to my Mom for Christmas.

I used Papersource cover weight stock in violet as my background. I just love love love that color. I specked it with a little iridescent white paint. I then printed out the clip art Santa and the verse on regular copy paper. The "snow" is text from the beginning of St. Luke which I gessoed over and sponged off with a little tissue paper. I tore the images and aged them with shades of brown chalks.

This is my 1st real attempt at collage of this kind so I welcome feedback.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Relaxation Part 2

We're all feeling the stress caused by the economy. I've had to work at keeping it from making me into a Grinch myself. I've got a trick or two that have helped manage the stress on my bank account.
I previously said I don't do Christmas cards; there are a couple reasons for this. I don't see the reason to spend time writing out things people will likely toss after the holidays. Not only is it not a good use of my time and postage, it's not good for the environment. (But if you send me a card, or even better, a family update letter, I do appreciate that. As a single person, I just don't have enough news to warrant a more meaningful letter myself).
That being said, as a writer, I do sometimes like to create actual gifts by putting pen to paper. Hopefully these hand made gifts have a longer lifespan and more sentimental value for the recipient than a boxed Christmas card. Spending time making these gifts is also one of the ways I carve out that solitude and reflection time I need to balance the chaos of the holidays.
Aside from giving the gift of your art, also consider giving the gift of your time. This year I'm offering to spend time with my friends, and specifically spend it doing something they might need. Babysitting. Organizing. Filing. Cleaning.
As a recipient, if someone, not that I'm naming names here, but if someone were to want to give me the gift of cleaning my house and doing some general repairs and maintenance, that would be a most wonderful Christmas gift. I'm just saying.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Relaxation

I've noticed an increase in the number of people who stumble onto my blog by googling "relaxing activities." I'm assuming this has to do with the busyness of the holidays and stress associated with the weather, the economy, etc.
So, how do you relax during the holidays? A quick scan of magazine covers at the store checkout counter will reveal plenty of articles promising countless ways to reduce holiday stress. So I was reluctant to address the issue for fear I'd be redundant. But, since we're all stressed I'll jump in with my own thoughts on relaxing during the holidays.
Any of those magazines will tell you that you need to prioritize your list of holiday activities. If the benefit doesn't outweigh the cost in terms of time, energy, and money, consider eliminating the activity. For me, balancing my list is also important. It's easy to spend all my time shopping, or running from party to party. Once I've overdosed on all the social stuff, I can easily retreat into contemplation mode, which is a good thing, but not to excess.
It works better for me if I can plan activities that allow for some solitude, intermixed with church and family gatherings. Because I'm a writer, much of my time is spent, well, writing. So sadly, I just gave up on doing Christmas cards. I maintain contact with my friends throughout the rest of the year, so the additional time writing isn't a good investment of my time when I need my energy for other things.
In a couple days, I'll share some ideas for managing the financial stress around the holidays.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thank A Soldier

The folks at Xerox have a neat program. If you go to their site you can pick a card that they will print up and send to a soldier serving overseas. The cards are all drawn by children. You can personalize it with one of several pre-written messages or write one of your own.
Whatever your political views, please consider taking a minute to thank these wonderful people celebrating the holidays away from their loved ones as they honor a commitment our country. Sending a card will literally take you less time than it took you to read this post.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


This sample of Taize music isn't from my church, but I wanted to share an example of the kind of music we worshipped with at our Advent service tonight. I love the chant style and have downloaded several Taize songs to my ipod. Hope you like it too.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Few Fragments

A Charlie Brown Christmas was on tonight. Watching it is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. "Tidings of great joy" gets me every time.
I've been thinking more about traditions since I started contemplating my New Year's goals. As I mentioned, I think this year calls for some changing of tradition. I'm not sure what I'm going to do on New Year's Eve yet either. I'm not into big parties and the evening alone actually doesn't appeal to me much either this year. Doesn't leave a whole lot of options. Maybe I'll spend New Year's Day making art.
On a different subject, I watched Boston Legal tonight. I don't watch much TV. In fact, this was the 1st episode of the show that I've seen. I really liked it. The problem is, I think this is the last episode of the show. Go figure.
Well, not much to say today. Hopefully I'll be more profound next time.

Friday, December 05, 2008

More Smiles

The folks at Kleenex have made me smile. At their site, you can make a custom box of Kleenex. And there are tons of options, so it really is custom, not just a choice of a couple color combos. For five bucks you can customize a box of Kleenex. I have no idea why this tickles me so, but it does.
I stopped by Borders today & I was just going to warm up while reading a magazine. I had no intention of making any purchases. Then a the manager announced over the loudspeaker that all candy was buy 2, get 1 free. I couldn't just buy chocolate at Borders so I bought a magazine as well. Was this God speaking over the intercom and telling me to buy chocolate, or was it the voice of temptation attempting to sway me? I decided to avoid making it a theological issue and stock up on post-chemo chocolate. My smile was a bit wry in this case, but it was a smile nonetheless.
I'm looking forward to the local library sale tomorrow. I will get stacks of books, including some gifts, for the price of 1 book at the aforementioned bookstore.
While I restrained myself from making too many purchases that weren't on my list, I saw so many potential gifts that made me smile today. I love those little gifts that just beg to be given to the right person on your list. The trouble is, I see so many of them that once I get one, I'm hooked and before you know it I can blow my Christmas money on people I'm not even supposed to buy for! I try to get my friends and family bought for and then indulge in a few "extras" for the people I don't formally exchange with.
Finally, Katerina was extra cuddly today which is always cause for more smiles.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Makes Me Smile

I've been disgruntled lately. Health, weather, work, people, it's all bugging me these days. I'm working on finding things that make me smile to try to help out with the things that don't.
  • Katerina sleeping in her new, fluffy, blue bed. Someday I'll get around to posting a picture.
  • The folks at LOLcats make me smile. I love that these cats can't spell, have poor grammar, and fail to understand stuff like the laws of physics. But they do have a remarkably sound theological doctrine.
  • When I paused from writing this, I turned to find Katerina at eye level with me, sitting right in the middle of my 7ft Christmas tree.

Monday, December 01, 2008


There's a lot of talk about mindfulness these days. It's particularly popular among counseling professionals. Basically, mindfulness is the practice of staying fully present in the moment. It's often closely associated with Eastern philosophy/religion and Buddhist meditation. As a concept, I see nothing wrong with keeping generally focused on where you are and what you are doing. Indeed, a lot of therapy centers around troubles associated with dwelling too much on the past or worrying too much about the future.
Now, I'm not about to say mindfulness is against the past or future. I'm just wondering if the whole "be here now" phenomenon can be overdone and cause us to lose some perspective in life. After all, I can easily come up with equally pithy statements about learning from the past and planning/anticipating the future. The key is in how we think about our past, present, and future.
Does being "in the moment" translate to handling each urgent matter before you until it's 5PM and you realize you haven't planned so far into the future as to remember your child's basketball game? Does taking it "day by day" absolve you of setting long range goals and taking risks to do something bigger & better?
What about learning from the past? The only way to redeem a mistake is to learn from it. Guilt is healthy if it tells us "Hey, think about that differently next time. You'll feel better if you change how you handle that." Similarly, if worry about the economy and my financial future keeps me up at night, that's not so great. If the same concern causes me to trim my budget and add to my savings and then stop thinking about it, well, that's pretty useful.
I'm still trying to balance thinking about past, present, and future. How about you?